Ian is an online chat volunteer within the Telephone and Online Advice Service team in Shelter Scotland. He started volunteering in 2014 while running his health-related business and has continued since retirement in 2017. He usually does two shifts of volunteering a week, for around three hours per session and he likes to split his volunteer time between the office in Glasgow and his home.

Outside of volunteering, Ian’s main passion is golfing. He also has family commitments and has six granddaughters as well as making time to help his local church and food bank.

In 2013, Ian was starting to think about his retirement plans and after helping on a project in Malawi for three weeks, he decided to start volunteering on his return home.

“It made me realise that I wanted to give something back.”

At that stage, Ian didn’t know exactly what kind of volunteering he wanted to do but he knew that it would be across social sectors, and it would involve helping people of all ages.

One night, two Shelter Scotland fundraising volunteers knocked on Ian’s door and while signing up to donate, he asked if they had any volunteering opportunities. Soon afterwards, Ian met with the Shelter Scotland volunteer coordinator, and they discussed his career, knowledge and skills.

An online advice service was about to be launched by Shelter Scotland and Ian was asked, considering his experience, if he might be interested in volunteering on the project. The aim was to signpost people to further information online and to take pressure off the helpline which was oversubscribed. Ian was involved in the pilot project which has since progressed from being a signposting service to offering online advice.

Ian enjoys the challenge and the feeling that he is helping people unsure or unaware of their housing rights, as well as learning about the issues people face.

“I’ve learned a lot about homelessness and housing issues…volunteering gives me a lot of self-satisfaction and purpose…I feel like I’m contributing something.”

Ian has also developed his online and technical skills further, which he enjoys. He has learnt so much about the work Shelter Scotland does. Before volunteering, he thought Shelter Scotland only helped people with lived experience of homelessness but now he appreciates that Shelter Scotland offers so much more than that.

“Shelter Scotland is a charity doing essential work supporting people who are disadvantaged and sadly forgotten or ignored by society and in particular short-term politicians. Without Shelter Scotland there would be a whole sector of society swept underneath the carpet.”

Through his volunteering role, Ian helps people online with tenancy issues, such as eviction, disrepair and harassment. He has been impressed by the respect shown by Shelter Scotland staff towards both clients and volunteers which, he says, contrasts with his experience of the business world.

Ian always feels valued as a volunteer with Shelter Scotland and he recommends volunteering to others.

“I would encourage anyone to volunteer with Shelter Scotland…it gives a sense of worth and achievement.”